THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Niffer"
Originally posted in March 2001(The author retains all rights to this material)
I was sent to my first N.A. meeting in 1983. I was sixteen years old and in a psych hospital in Philadelphia. I was sick and tired from living the way I was living, lying, cheating, stealing, hurting others and myself.
The N.A. meetings I went to gave me suggestions and the hospital tried to prepare me the best they could with positive resources but I wasn’t just addicted to drugs I was also addicted to the lifestyle.
I was released from the hospital after six months and moved to Monmouth County N.J. only to find myself swept up by the allure of what I thought was normal. I had a fresh start and I felt like a new person, one who was certainly ready to handle what ever awaited me. For me the suggestions didn’t apply. I went to clubs and worked serving alcohol. My closest friends were people who used. I was involved in N.A. as little as possible. I did manage to stay clean for eleven months and when I could no longer pretend that everything was fine I relapsed. This time my using was very different, my disease had definitely progressed; all of a sudden I realized I had a lot to lose. Everything I had been complaining about were blessings compared to how I was living now and I had put it at risk by picking up. For the next year and a half I was in and out of the program. I sat in meetings praying it would click for me. I felt like I was at the end of my rope and just when I thought maybe I finally got it I would relapse again. I know somehow N.A. was my only way out. I was hopeless and desperate.
In August of 1986 I lost my job as a result of using. It lifted the veil of denial about my disease. I could no longer hide my fear and desperation. I could no longer hide behind the fact that I still had a job. I had run out of people to blame, and I started to take responsibility and commit to my recovery.
I made 90 meeting in 90 days. I started to call my sponsor and work the steps. I got involved in service, and for a while let go of the idea of being normal. I began to realize that the very thing I used as my solution had become by biggest problem. I knew I had to stay clean at all costs. I bought into everything N.A. had to offer. My recovery had a lot of highs and lows, so often I would find myself caught up in the illusion instead of the reality. Today I recognize that as the disease. Things in my life got better, I rarely thought of using. The residue of my using days had all but washed away. I found I could coast on little to no meetings. I had a great sponsor but we didn’t work any steps. I felt just as comfortable outside N.A. as in N.A.; I had become complacent and really believed after 11 years clean only some of the suggestions applied. I heard once if you can’t remember your last day using maybe it wasn’t your last day. In 1998 with almost 12 years clean I picked up.
I know today I’m just so lucky to have made it back to the rooms. I feel so blessed to be here and be clean. I know right now as I write this there are addicts still suffering, waking up in pain, living without hope, desperate and tied to active addiction, an addict kicking in jail or selling themselves on the street, a child alone because their parent had to go cop. I remember what it’s like to have no choice. I know I’m just one drug away from the madness of that kind of existence. Just for today I’m not just grateful but I recognize the gift. I can’t stay clean on the program I worked yesterday. Today I am the living example of hope. I experience freedom from active addiction. I know if you’re an addict then you’re just like me and I’m just like you. If recovery is available to me it’s available to you.